SAN FRANCISCO (CBS / AP / BCN) - Nearly two decades after they made the nation gawk by forming its first unionized strip club, the dancers at San Francisco’s Lusty Lady are hanging up their thongs.
The employee-owned, co-op club will close in two weeks because it can no longer afford its rent.
General manager Scott Farrell said that while the workers own the club, they don’t own the North Beach building where rent was $5,500 a month in 2001 but now runs more than $16,000. That’s far more than the dancers and their wads of ones can manage.
“It is with shaking hands & tear stained cheeks that I write to say, we just heard from our land lord, they will NOT agree to a new lease, they are closing our doors,” a post on the strip club’s Facebook page read. It was signed by “The Lusties.”
The website for the club, located at 1033 Kearny St., touts the Lusty Lady as “the world’s only unionized worker-owned peep show co-op,” after its dancers voted to unionize in 1997 as a result of “random firings and pay cuts, ambiguous shift policies and other unsavory business.”
The fight to unionize the Lusty Lady dancers was the subject of the 2000 documentary “Live Nude Girls Unite!”
Under a prior threat of closure in 2003, the dancers purchased the Lusty Lady and ran it as a co-op, but saw declining revenues in recent years as Internet pornography grew in popularity, according to its website.
“We were the only one and now it’s over,” a dancer who goes by the name Prince$$ told KPIX 5. She is also the union shop steward of the club.
A union meeting will be held Thursday to talk about benefits, such as pensions for workers. Prince$$ is also planning the big goodbye celebration for September 1st.
Eviction proceedings began against the club earlier this year when it fell behind on rent. The workers have agreed to vacate by Sept. 2, and the owner said he would waive the back rent.
The dancers wrote Tuesday on Facebook, “Please help us spread the word, and make it a glorious & glamorous two weeks!”
(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco, The Associated Press and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)